Documentary & Biography TV Shows

About Documentary & Biography

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

About This Genre
The Staircase
The Staircase
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
The New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
Below Deck Mediterranean
Below Deck Mediterranean
The Fourth Estate
The Fourth Estate
My 600-lb Life
My 600-lb Life
Total Bellas
Total Bellas
Dead North
Dead North
1000 Ways to Die
1000 Ways to Die
Intervention
Intervention
Black Love
Black Love
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
This American Life
This American Life
Dateline
Dateline
30 For 30
30 For 30
Lost in Transition
Lost in Transition
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Just Another Immigrant
Just Another Immigrant
Bering Sea Gold
Bering Sea Gold
Disappeared
Disappeared
Snapped
Snapped
I Survived
I Survived
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Untold Stories of the E.R.
River Monsters
River Monsters
Being Serena
Being Serena
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens
The Last Defense
The Last Defense
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Lockup
Lockup
Deadly Sins
Deadly Sins
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Locked Up Abroad
Locked Up Abroad
A Season With
A Season With
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
R.L. Stine's The Haunting Hour
Phenoms
Phenoms
The Defiant Ones
The Defiant Ones
United Shades of America
United Shades of America
Hustle & Soul
Hustle & Soul
Life Below Zero
Life Below Zero
The Layover
The Layover
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Unexpected
Unexpected
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
Mayday
Mayday
Beyond Scared Straight
Beyond Scared Straight
48 Hours Mystery
48 Hours Mystery
Citizen Rose
Citizen Rose
Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER
Dr. K's Exotic Animal ER
Unsolved Mysteries
Unsolved Mysteries
An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase
An American Murder Mystery: The Staircase
How It's Made
How It's Made
Cold Case Files
Cold Case Files
See No Evil
See No Evil
The Cromarties
The Cromarties
American Experience
American Experience
All or Nothing: New Zealand All Blacks
All or Nothing: New Zealand All Blacks
People Magazine Investigates
People Magazine Investigates
Hunting Hitler
Hunting Hitler
Shark Week
Shark Week
Jeremy Wade's Mighty Rivers
Jeremy Wade's Mighty Rivers
I Shouldn't Be Alive
I Shouldn't Be Alive
NASA's Unexplained Files
NASA's Unexplained Files
Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers
Flipping Virgins
Flipping Virgins
It Was Him: The Many Murders of Ed Edwards
It Was Him: The Many Murders of Ed Edwards
Nellyville
Nellyville
Austin City Limits
Austin City Limits
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Stalked: Someone's Watching
Drain the Oceans
Drain the Oceans
Diesel Brothers
Diesel Brothers
Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography
Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography
Paranormal State
Paranormal State
Mafia's Greatest Hits
Mafia's Greatest Hits
Breaking Homicide
Breaking Homicide
Harley and the Davidsons
Harley and the Davidsons
The Killing Season
The Killing Season
Ice Road Truckers
Ice Road Truckers
Kindred Spirits
Kindred Spirits
The Day I Almost Died
The Day I Almost Died
Good Eats
Good Eats
Pool Kings
Pool Kings
The Devils Ride
The Devils Ride
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
Ancient Civilizations
Ancient Civilizations
How the Universe Works
How the Universe Works
Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery
Jodi Arias: An American Murder Mystery
Chasing Classic Cars
Chasing Classic Cars
Behind Bars: Rookie Year
Behind Bars: Rookie Year
Forbidden: Dying for Love
Forbidden: Dying for Love
Down East Dickering
Down East Dickering
Diagnose Me
Diagnose Me
Empires
Empires
America Inside Out With Katie Couric
America Inside Out With Katie Couric
The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead
The Coroner: I Speak for the Dead
Real Detective
Real Detective
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst
The Radical Story of Patty Hearst
Rise of the Machines
Rise of the Machines
Facing Evil
Facing Evil